Sure, your equipment is better than the stuff that was in your dad’s golf bag but how much better? We put GOLF MAGAZINE Contributing Player Luke Donald on the case, turning him loose at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Arizona, armed with 45-year-old clubs: MacGregor’s Eye-O-Matic 60 driver and Tourney Velocitized fairway woods, Wilson Staff Dyna-Powered irons and sand wedge, a Ben Hogan Equalizer pitching wedge, a Bulls Eye putter, and an original Ping 1-A putter. He used two types of Titleist balls his current model, the Pro V1x, and a new sleeve of Tour 90 balatas from a decade ago, the softest ball we could find that we were sure wouldn’t implode. For comparison’s sake, he also hit shots with his current clubs, including a 365cc titanium-headed driver with a graphite shaft.
Here is Donald’s report:
Though the heads are much smaller than what I’m used to, these woods are real good-looking, especially considering they’re decades older than I am. The sweetspot may be tiny, but you can tell these clubs have great balance; everything’s in proportion. Today’s drivers are more head-heavy.
Well, here goes nothing…
There’s a big difference in the sound and feel at impact. The persimmon feels dead, like I’m hitting a grapefruit. It’s a struggle to get the ball into the air with the driver. The balata ball has a low, flat trajectory that dives quickly at the end. (My Pro V1x proves easier to get airborne, but only just.) On the 1st hole, I make a decent swing at least the contact feels fine. But when I look up the ball is knee-high. Almost gives the photographer a haircut.
My current driver sends it 50 yards past the old MacGregor with modern balls, 20-35 yards with the balata. I don’t see as much difference in the fairway woods. At the 7th hole, a par 5, I have 245 yards left. With the 3-wood I hit a balata straight and get it to the green, but my second attempt, with a Pro V1x, takes off just as straight but much higher and stays in the air a lot longer. The difference between the old and new balls is amazing. Jack Nicklaus always says the modern ball is the biggest reason for the length we get these days. Now I have to agree.
The '59 Wilson irons are comparable to my Mizuno MP-33s. The hosel on the old ones is thicker and the blade shorter, but the shape, offset and topline are similar. I notice the Wilson 4-iron has more loft than my Mizuno 4-iron, and the shaft is about an inch and a half shorter. Not surprisingly, my current set plays about a club longer throughout the bag. The old pitching and sand wedges perform like I’m used to wedge design has stayed pretty classical. But on shorter shots the balata ball produces a different feeling, like it wants to stick to the clubface. I thought I might tear the cover off the ball. You’d think the balata would be much easier to control, but the Pro V1x spins almost as much.
Putting is easy with the old Bulls Eye there’s a reason this model lives on. The Ping takes some getting used to. Never mind the high-pitched ping; it’s so light and the metal so thin that judging distance takes some time.So what did I learn? Modern technology has definitely made the game easier. I’ve gained a new measure of respect for the old-timers, who couldn’t just crush the ball; they had to be true shotmakers.
Interested to know what he shot… rather than just giving a review of the old stuff. Luke’s one of the guys I think would do well with the older stuff.
You’d have to teach him to start rotating and stop flipping through impact though John…
Luke is one of the rare guys that uses a pure swinger’s release and can time it very well. Most people can’t and never will, and it is VERY difficult to teach someone that.
When I was younger and used a swinger’s release, I could at times strike the ball very well, but I had a very hard time with it under pressure because like most… you tighten up under pressure and that is death for a swingers release. This release requires excellent mind and body control to keep relaxed and maintain that feel from day to day. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, learning to control you heart rate… all that good stuff… but I don’t want golf to feel that difficult, and I certainly don’t have time to hit 300 balls a day.
I remember reading an interview with VJ, and he said if he took one day off hitting balls he feared completely losing his swing.
The feeling of a swingers release going bad is one of the worst feelings in the game. Complete frustration and helplessness.
Bravo to anyone who can do it though.